ASSE President Warren K. Brown’s, CSP, ARM, CSHM, Statement on 2007 Workplace Fatality Numbers
Des Plaines, IL (August 21, 2008) — Our sympathy goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of the 5,488 people who lost their lives in 2007 due to workplace injuries and we reiterate the commitment of our American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) members, 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals, to continue to work around the clock to make sure that the millions of people who go to work return home safely every day.
We are pleased to see a reduction in the number of on-the-job fatalities in 2007 over 2006. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported Wednesday that there were 5,488 workplace fatalities in 2007 compared with 5,840 in 2006. The numbers will be finalized in the spring of 2009.
With the expanded ongoing efforts of our members the past few years at increasing fleet safety to address the annual increase in on-the-job transportation-related fatalities we are pleased to see a reduction in those fatalities, but concerned that they still continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths. We will continue through communications, sharing best practices, symposiums, mentoring and more to work to reduce these roadway tragedies.
Another major concern is the fact that homicides were reported by the BLS to be the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths, an increase of 13 percent, in 2007 with 491 people dying as a result of a shooting and 39 people died from being stabbed. The BLS notes that workplace homicides involving police officers and supervisors of retail sales workers both saw substantial increases in 2007.
In May of 2004 the “Workplace Violence Survey of ASSE members & White Paper” done by the ASSE Risk Management and Insurance (RM/I) Practice Specialty found that many companies and organizations in all industries had yet to address the problem of workplace violence. Noting that one size does not fit all, the ASSE RM/I members suggested employers consider doing the following to address the prevention of workplace violence:
• Officers and directors – establish a workplace violence prevention policy; upper management must promote a clear antiviolence corporate policy; and, establish and maintain security policies.
• Human resource managers – examine and improve hiring practices; implement prescreening techniques; utilize background checks; encourage employees to report threats or violent behavior; establish termination policies; and, provide post-termination counseling.
• Risk management and safety, health and environmental departments – train all employees in the warning signs of aggressive or violent behavior; train management in threat assessment and de-escalation techniques; conduct a formal workplace violence risk assessment; increase security as needed; develop and communicate a contingency plan to all employees which includes crisis management; review insurance coverage and verify coverage and exclusions; and, identify a defensive strategy.
As we move forward ASSE and its members will continue to work to protect people, property and the environment. They work in all areas of safety including: environmental, system safety, risk management, mining, transportation, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, fire protection, radiation, chemical process, construction and much, much more utilizing safety science and promoting good leadership and management techniques.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. For more information please go to http://www.asse.org or to http://www.bls.gov for a copy of the fatality report.